The Free Java DevRoom at FOSDEM was packed with people all day yesterday. At the beginning, Mark Reinhold (from Sun and now Oracle, the chief Java engineer) hoped to speak briefly about the new OpenJDK governance draft but faced plenty of searching questions about it – you’ll not get to see though, as Mark and Joe were unable to gain permission from Oracle for their talks to be recorded. But that was the last it was mentioned the rest of the day until my talk at 6pm.

In the interim were plenty of interesting talks, most notably Mario Torres and David Fu talking about their IcedRobot project to get Android apps to run on OpenJDK (and thus on any desktop). The room was packed out and had a line of people down the hall at the end of the day to hear Stephen O’Grady speak, and I was his warm-up act with a talk looking at the lessons I learned liberating Java into OpenJDK (I’ve uploaded my slides), putting the governance draft into context a little.  O’Grady explained – accompanied by plenty of data – how despite the rumours to the contrary and an overall decline in apparent usage around the whole web application platform tool-set, the indicators for Java as a developer language are still strong when taken in context.

In the evening, the Free Java attendees all went for a dinner sponsored by Oracle, Red Hat and Tarent – a crucial part of the annual Free Java activity and one of the main reasons it remains a strong annual community. Meeting actual people and sharing a meal with them makes it so much easier to work objectively and avoid demonising people, and Tom Marble and the organising team are to be congratulated for the work they have put in to make it all happen. FOSDEM remains the meeting point for European software freedom because of the work they and others like them contribute.

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